Before he has his picture taken, Patrick Singh asks for a pair of sunglasses to complement the drum sticks he’s twirling between his fingers.
“I like sunglasses, what can I say,” Singh quips with a mischievous smile.
Singh is co-owner of Mark and Paddy’s Wondrous Music Emporium on Fourth Avenue, one of many businesses he’s spawned over the years.
When Singh moved to Whitehorse in 1991 he and business partner, Mark Lutkehaus, had $1,000 in their pocket and dreams of starting their own business.
“We were rejected by every credit card company and banking institution in town. But we thought, ‘To hell with it, we’ll go ahead with our plans anyway.’”
And they started plugging away.
It was the beginning of a long road that would eventually wind its way through an eclectic assortment of Whitehorse businesses.
Over the last 18 years, Singh and Lutkehaus have been involved in Paddy’s Place nightclub, the Horse’s Mouth Magazine, Mark and Paddy’s Handyman Services and, recently, Yukontrader.ca a website that lists used goods.
And, of course, Mark and Paddy’s Fine Food Cart—a Main Street institution and testament to Singh and Lutkehaus’s perseverance.
“Over the years we finally got the right formula down,” says Singh.
“It’s dealing with lots of ups and downs, hard work, luck and risk-taking. It’s usually a combination of all three—just one can’t work on its own”.
It’s been almost 18 months since Singh and Lutkehaus opened the doors to their Music Emporium. Business is going well so far.
Step inside their store and you’re greeted by posters of Jimi Hendrix and the sharp smell of incense.
The tiny store is crammed with rows of stunning guitars. A couple of drum kits in the corner of the room crowd out banjos, bass guitars and a lone harp.
A polished flute rests beside a brightly-lit fish tank and, tucked beside a wall of amps, is a vintage trumpet resting on top of an old-style popcorn machine.
Mark and Paddy’s is the only music store in town that sells both new and used instruments. This, says Singh, guarantees there’s lots of oddball things moving in and out of his store.
“There’s all these people sitting on old instruments they don’t know what to do with. There’s nothing worse than an instrument sitting in a basement collecting dust.”
With so many musicians in town, Singh says he doesn’t hold onto his used instruments long.
The most memorable instruments that have passed through his store are a 1965 Ibanez guitar and a 1970s Ludwig jazz kit.
It’s only fitting that Singh is a musician himself drumming in four different bands in Whitehorse: Sasquatch Prom Date, KGB, Deer Cadence and the Jerry Alfred Band.
Being well known in the community has meant that people now come to him.
When he and Lutkehaus opened their store, a local artist approached them to paint a mural on the outside of the Music Emporium.
“Colin Alexander came to us and said, ‘I have a vision, a dream!
If you buy me the supplies, I’ll do the artwork for free.’ How can you turn an offer like that down?” says Singh.
Now the outside of the building sports a swirly purple mural with paintings of the classic guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Van Halen.
“Colin is still coming back to finish the mural. No one can figure out who the Bob Marley figure is. And Marley was a left-handed guitar player, not right-handed, like he is in the mural,” says Singh
distracted by a customer who wants to buy an amp.
“Oh, don’t worry about paying,” he tells the customer. “Just take the amp now, we’ll deal with the rest later.
“It’s just the way we like to run things around here,” says Singh with a smile.
Contact Vivian Belik at